You can find help.
No matter what the problem is. If you are sad because of recent events, if life feels like it is spiraling out of control, or even if you are dealing with emotional and mental health issues that no one understands, there are people who can help.
Suicide is permanent.
Two young men who played football in our area died by suicide this year.
One of them was a great football player from Tecumseh who was heading to Langston to continue his football career and education there. He is being honored for his football accomplishments at the Best of News-Star Preps event May 6 at FireLake Arena.
Edward Carey was a fine young man. From the outside, he had a lot going for him. I enjoyed speaking to him on the sidelines of a football game, watching him in basketball or chatting with him while he volunteered at a track meet or helped manage the Savage baseball team.
He was named Tecumseh Prom King a week before his death. Emotional issues and clinical depression are nothing to joke about.
Sure, some people who consider suicide are going through a rough time and harbor thoughts of escaping pain. With people suffering from depression or other mental health crises not related to life circumstances, the thoughts are the same, they are just less predictable and could be triggered by an immediate crisis. When someone is in that deep dark place, they may not be able to see all their options for help. We can all play a role in checking in on the people in our lives: friends, family, students, or coworkers.
If you have ever considered suicide because of a breakup, bad grade or any other reason - you need to stop and let someone know what you are going through. If life is great but those thoughts have troubled you for reasons you can't explain - help is available for you too.
I'm not sure why either young man took his own life this year. The "why" doesn't matter now. What matters is that anyone who is considering similar actions can find help and live a long happy life which may mean seeking help to deal with the sadness caused by losing good friends.
Here is what I know, when word spread of both of these deaths, there was pain and regret from people who knew the young men. Coaches, administrators, friends, and even strangers offered to be there for anyone who needs help to deal with suicidal thoughts and feelings.
I'm not a very good person to be with when you want to share emotions. Most people see me as emotionally unavailable for the most part. My staff even bought me a shirt for Christmas one year that said "Hug Free Zone." It was true. I still wear it.
But when one of my employees was going through a scary time one Sunday afternoon last year, he knew he could pick up the phone and reach out to me. I was making dinner for my family after church and I had just put the homemade pizzas in the oven.
It wasn't the best time, but I am so glad he called. I could tell by his voice that something was wrong. I asked if he was okay and he said, "No. I don't think I should be alone right now."
I invited him over for pizza, because pizza always helps.
But he was in no shape to drive. I told him I would be at his house in five minutes.
I had no idea what to do. I am not a trained counselor and I don't deal well with emotions. But I do care about my friends and I sat with him and talked and watched television until his family was able to come take him to stay with them and work through the dark time.
He's in a great place now. He still has struggles, but his life is going in a good direction. Recovery is possible.
But what if he hadn't called? Life was dark that day and suicide was all over the news. His thoughts weren't good. If he hadn't called me and found help and a good support system he would have missed so many fun times with friends and family.
That future is there for all of us. I've had some bad days. I've dealt with stressful situations I wouldn't wish on anyone.
But hope and healing are available to everyone. Don't be embarrassed to tell your friends, a teacher, a coach, a youth minister, or you can find me about 20 hours a day by sending a message on Facebook or Twitter. My email is at the end of this column.
You don't have to know me. I do care and, even though I have no training to do anything to help, I don't need any training to be able to tell you that if you reach out to me, I will do anything I can to find someone who can help you.
Your teachers and coaches would as well.
But if you just don't want to discuss it with people you know, Gateway to Prevention in Shawnee offers counseling and even support groups for people who have survived a suicide attempt or deal with suicidal thoughts.
The News-Star wanted to do anything we can to make sure we never run another obituary for a person who dies by suicide, so I reached out to Gateway to see how we could help.
They had an upcoming support group that needed funding and I told them to consider it done. In honor of the two young men we lost this year and my employee who is still my friend because he got the help he needed, we are making sure this group is available to anyone of any age in our area free of charge. All you have to do is call 405-273-1170 to sign up.
We are also going to make sure the Suicide Prevention Hotline is on our website at all times and in the printed newspaper. You can call the hotline if you are having thoughts of suicide, are concerned about someone, and/or are struggling with the loss of someone who died by suicide. You may need to share this number with a loved one someday and sit with them as they make the call.
I hope if you are reading this column and have had thoughts like this, you will realize that people do care and they will invest their time and money to help you realize that we care and we want to help.